"Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse," we wrote almost a decade ago in an ECG newsletter. Reading that article again, we see that the advice given in it certainly stands the test of time. Now as then, the ultimate purpose of rehearsing a presentation is to internalize it, to know well its components and structures, its messages and support, its tone and diction.

Internalization provides control and increases confidence, reducing the chance that you will stumble during delivery or forget what you had intended to say. It supplies you with a roadmap not only of your messages and structure but of delivery techniques—body language, visual cues, vocal quality, and emphasis.

The elements of effective rehearsal lead to internalization and thus to presentation control.

1. Always rehearse out loud.

You need to hear your own words in your own voice. You can then pay attention to both content and delivery, noticing more easily the places or words that cause you difficulty or interrupt the flow of your presentation.

2. Seek feedback; then revise.

Ask a friend or colleague to watch you rehearse. Listen to his or her responses, evaluate them, and then revise as needed.

3. Sweeten sour notes.

As you rehearse, you'll likely notice awkward or bare spots in your presentation, places that sound wrong, irrelevant, or out of order. Use that awareness to smooth it out, to rearrange its parts or add new material, to polish the whole. Incorporate those revisions into subsequent rehearsals.

4. First rehearse section-by-section.

Break your presentation into blocks or chunks and rehearse each separately so that you can evaluate whether each part meets its purpose. Does the beginning grab attention? Do the middle sections each focus on a clear and supported message? Is the ending strong?

5. Then begin rehearsing from start to finish.

Once you've mastered each section, practice the complete presentation, paying special attention to how you've fashioned a "knot of understanding" into the whole. If no such knot exists, examine the presentation with attention to making global revisions that will help you create one.

6. Record rehearsals.

Watch yourself. What do you see? What do you hear? If either is not to your liking, your audience probably won't connect, either. Include all changes in subsequent rehearsals.

7. Rehearse using the presentation's actual equipment and visuals.

We recommend that you prepare your presentation before you design and organize visuals. But once you've reached that stage, use the equipment during rehearsals.

8. Find your number.

How many times should you rehearse? We can't come up with a number, but you can. One of our clients swears on the need for five rehearsals, another for eleven. Another rehearses between four and twenty times, depending on the complexity and length of the presentation—and available time. As you manage your calendar, build in rehearsals based on whether your rehearsal time in the past was sufficient. And if you've never rehearsed before, schedule time for several.

9. Time your rehearsals.

Know how long your presentation is supposed to be and constantly compare that expected length to rehearsal length. Make adjustments as needed in content, delivery, or both.

10. How much rehearsal is too much?

You can't rehearse too much.

Today, ten years ago, and even ten years hence, our rehearsal advice remains. Rehearse. It's how you internalize a presentation. And once internalized, you own it. It's yours.